Quarter Days: Midsummer Magic

June 28, 2018 by in category Writing with 9 and 0
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Happy Midsummer’s Day! We’re only a few days past the celebration of the summer solstice,

but I think the magical time of summer is a good time to talk about…

Fairies

I’m always on the hunt for tidbits of research I can use in one of my stories, particularly Celtic myths and superstitions. Fairies, Fauns, Selkies, Goblins, Elves, these delightful creatures populate stories for children (fairy tales), but they weren’t all sweet Tinkerbells!

A Chimney Elf

In Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, The fairy king, Oberon, and his henchman, Puck, spread a great deal of mischief among the human characters. Fairies could sicken the livestock, ruin the crops.

Worse, fairies were known to steal human children and substitute fairy offspring (changelings). Fairies, elves, and all their kin were the original paranormal villains. For a really good article on this subject, check out Fairy Scapegoats: A History of the Persecution of Changeling Children.

Who Would Believe This Stuff?

Then, as in present times, a notion, no matter how unsupported by logic or facts, could take hold, spread, and in some cases lead to persecutions.

Besides stealing human children, magical creatures sometimes influenced humans who engaged in witchcraft. Most people have heard of the Salem Witch Trials, but witch hunts weren’t limited to the Colonies. In sixteenth century Scotland thousands of people were tried for witchcraft and executed. King James VI of Scotland (later James I of England) became obsessed with witchcraft and wrote a treatise on the subject, Daemonologie, in 1597:

The fearefull aboundinge at this time in this countrie, of these detestable slaves of the Devill, the Witches or enchaunters, hath moved me (beloved reader) to dispatch in post, this following treatise of mine…

Fairies and Quarter Days

These beliefs persisted well past the sixteenth century. The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies, written in 1691 by Robert Kirk, and reissued in 1893 is

An Essay on The Nature and Actions of the Subterranean (and, for the most Part,) Invisible People, heretofioir going under the name of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies, or the lyke, among the Low-Country Scots, as they are described by those who have the Second Sight…

Plucked from the Fairy Circle

In an earlier post, I mentioned that Quarter Days were important for paying rent (and sometimes absconding without paying!). These rent-payment days were apparently important for supernatural creatures also. Mr. Kirk describes the Invisible People’s activities at Quarter Days:

They remove to other Lodgings at the Beginning of each Quarter of the Year, so traversing till Doomsday…Their chamaelion-lyke Bodies swim in the Air near the Earth with Bag and Bagadge; and at such revolution of Time, Seers, or Men of the Second Sight, (Faemales being seldome so qualified) have very terrifying Encounters with them, even on High Ways.

Spiritual Armor

These men with the second sight understandably shunned quarterly travel and sought spiritual safeguards. They

thereby have made it a Custome to this Day among the Scottish-Irish to keep Church duely evry first Sunday of the Quarter to sene or hallow themselves, their Corns and Cattell, from the Shots and Stealth of these wandring Tribes; and many of these superstitious People will not be seen in Church againe till the nixt Quarter begin, as if no Duty were to be learned or done by them, but all the Use of Worship and Sermons were to save them from these Arrows that fly in the Dark.

Mr. Kirk was the seventh son of his father, and was thus “specially gifted.” I’m just delving into this book, but if you’re interested, click the link above and download a free copy from Googlebooks.

May your summer be happy, may you be safe from all the Fair Folk and Good People, and I’ll be back for another post at Michaelmas.

 

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

Author Bio
Author Bio
Award winning author Alina K. Field earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and German literature, but prefers the much happier world of romance fiction. Though her roots are in the Midwestern U.S., after six very, very, very cold years in Chicago, she moved to Southern California and hasn’t looked back. She shares a midcentury home with her husband, her spunky, blonde, rescued terrier, and the blue-eyed cat who conned his way in for dinner one day and decided the food was too good to leave. She is the author of several Regency romances, including the 2014 Book Buyer’s Best winner, Rosalyn’s Ring. She is hard at work on her next series of historical romances, but loves to hear from readers!
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Award winning author Alina K. Field earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and German literature, but prefers the much happier world of romance fiction. Though her roots are in the Midwestern U.S., after six very, very, very cold years in Chicago, she moved to Southern California and hasn’t looked back. She shares a midcentury home with her husband, her spunky, blonde, rescued terrier, and the blue-eyed cat who conned his way in for dinner one day and decided the food was too good to leave. She is the author of several Regency romances, including the 2014 Book Buyer’s Best winner, Rosalyn’s Ring. She is hard at work on her next series of historical romances, but loves to hear from readers!
  • Jenna Barwin says:

    Great blog, Alina! Thanks for sharing your research. I’m always fascinated by the myths that were created to explain bad events. The need for a scapegoat runs deep in the human psyche.

  • Diane Burton says:

    Interesting info about how legends begin. We’re seeing some of that persecution (like with the witches) in the US these days. You’d think we would learn.

  • Kara O'Neal says:

    This post was so interesting. Loved it!

  • Thank you all for stopping by and commenting!

  • darcyflynn says:

    Fascinating post, Alina! Always interesting to learn how a legend begins.

  • pamelasthibodeaux says:

    Wow….so much great information! Who da thunk fairies would wreak so much havoc? LOL!

    Good luck and God’s blessings
    PamT

  • Alicia Dean says:

    Wow, I did not know all of that about fairies…they’re meaner than I realized. 🙂 Interesting information, thanks for sharing!

  • alinakfield says:

    Alicia, it’s good fodder for paranormal stories!

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